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• Such was the divine benevolence toward the Romans, so long as the sacred rites were observed. • But when I shall come down to those times, in which the Roman empire became in a manner • barbarous, and very small, and that little corrupted, I shall set down the causes of those mis. « fortunes, and shall also endeavour to add, as I am able, those oracles by which the unhappy event was foretold.'
These, and other like passages may convince us, how strong the prejudices had always been in favour of Gentilism, and how much men were afraid of departing from ancient custoins, lest they should thereby bring down upon themselves, and the state, misery and confusion. And it may enable us to conceive, in some measure, how great fortitude of mind must have been needful, to enable the first Christians to bear up under all the reproaches which they met with upon that account. They must have been persuaded that they had good reason to act as they did, against the prevailing opinion. This observation we have had occasion to make several times.
2. In the second book of his history, having given a large and particular account of the secular games, and the manner of celebrating them, and the rites accompanying them, he says: • Whilst therefore all these things were perforined, according to the appointment of the oracle, 6 and as they really ought to be done, the Roman empire was safe, and they had in a manner • the whole world in subjection to them. But the festival having been neglected from the time • that Dioclesian abdicated, it has decayed, until it is become almost barbarous. I shall
down • the true account of the time. For from the consulship of Cilo and Libo [A. C. 204.] in which • Severus celebrated the secular games, to the ninth consulship of Dioclesian, and the eighth of • Maximian, [A. C. 304.] are an hundred and one years. But then Dioclesian of an emperor ó became a private man. The same was the case of Maximian. In the third consulship of · Constantine and Licinius [A. C. 313.] the time of a hundred and ten years was complete, when • the festival ought to have been observed according to custom. And not having been then ob• served, there was a necessity that affairs should sink into the distress and misery in which they ( now are.'
3. In the same book : • At that time [in the year 309, or thereabout] there happened a fire • at Rome, whether from the air, or from the earth, is uncertain, and it took the temple of
Fortune. When all men ran to extinguish the fire, a soldier, who had spoken some blas• phemous words against the deity, was killed by the multitude out of veneration for the goddess. • This inflamed the soldiery into a sedition; which might have ruined the whole city, if Maxentius had not interposed and restrained their fury.'
4. • But when the whole empired came to be in the hands of Constantine alone,' meaning after the death of Licinius, in the year 323 or 324, he no longer concealed his bad nature, • but did every thing as he pleased. Hitherto he had practised the sacred rites of his country, • not so much indeed out of real veneration for them, as out of necessity. And he therefore gave * credit to soothsayers, as men expert in their art, and who had truly foretold his future sucocesses.
And when he came to Rome, being exalted with pride and arrogance, he began with exercising cruelty in his own family; for he put to death his son Crispus, whom he had before • declared Cæsar, upon a suspicion of unlawful commerce with his mother-in-law Fausta. Con• stantine's mother Helena being extremely grieved for the death of the young man, as if he had * aimed to comfort her by adding one evil to another, he had Fausta suffocated in a bath. Being • conscious to himself of these things, and of his breaches of faith, he applied to the priests for * some expiatory purifications of those crimes. They answered him, that there were not deli'vered to them any purifications which could expiate such crimes as those were. At that time • there came an Ægyptian to Rome from Spain, who getting acquainted with the women of the · court, and at length coming into Constantine's company, he told him that the Christian doc
a Η μεν εν εις Ρωμαιες ευμενεια το θειο, της ιερας αγιστειας « Περιςασης δε της πασης εις μονον Κωνσταντινον αρχης, φυλαττομενης, τοιαυτη. Επειδαν δε εις εκεινες αφικωμαι τες εκετι λοιπον την κατα φυσιν ενασαν αυτω κακοηθιαν εκρυπτεν, , χρονες, εν οις η Ρωμαιων αρχη, κατα βραχυ βαρβαρωθεισα, εις αλλα ενεδιδε τω κατ' εξασιαν απαντα πραττειν. Εχρητο δε ετι ολιγον τι, και αυτο διαφθαρεν, περιεςη τηνικαυτα και τας αιτιας και τοις πατριοις ιεροις, 8 τιμης ένεκα, μαλλον η χρειας ή και παρατησω τα δυστυχήματος, και τες χρησμος ως αν οίοςεω μαντεσιν επειθετο πεπραγμένοις, ως αληθη προειπεσιν επι πασι παραθησομαι, τας τα συνενεχθέντα μηνυσαντας. Ιbid. p. 600. τοις κατωρθωμενοις αυτω. Επει δε εις την Ρωμην αφικετο, μεσος b Lib. 2. p. 671.
πασης αλαζονείας, αφ' εςιας ωηθη δειν oρξασθαι της ασεβειας. • Κατα δε την Ρωμην εκπεσοντος πυρος, ειτε εξ αερος, είτε
Κρισπoν γαρ παιδα- %d. l. 2. p. 685. εκ γης (τετο γαρ αδηλον) και της Τυχης εφλεχθη ναος. Παντων • Ταυτα συνεπιςαμενος εαυτω, και προσετι γε όρκων κατα. δε σβεσαι την πυραν συνδραμοντων, βλασφημα ρηματα κατα φρονησεις, προσγει τους ιερεύσι καθαρσια «των αμαρτηματων τα θεια των τρατιωτων τις αφεις. κ. λ. 1. 2. p. 675.
• But,' says
• trine could wipe away all offences: for it a contained this assurance, that the wicked, who em. • braced it, should be immediately freed from the guilt of all sin. Constantine, readily em• bracing that discourse, hearkened to the Ægyptian ; and forsaking the rites of his country, he began his impiety with neglecting divination and augury: and at length he abolished such things. And when a day came that, according to custom, the army should go up to the capitol, • Constantine spoke slightly of that custom. · And thus, abandoning the sacred rites, he lost the • affections of the senate and people of Rome. And not being able to endure the reproaches • cast upon him on that account, he then thought of chusing another city for the seat of the empire. "At length he fixed upon the city of Byzantium, afterwards called Constantinople.'
This paragraph will certainly require some remarks. To me it seems not at all strange that such reflections as these should be sometimes thrown upon Constantine, and the Christian religion, by heathen people. Sozomen, near the beginning of his Ecclesiastical History, speaks to this purpose : •10 am not ignorant that the Gentiles are wont to say that Constantine, having * put to death some of his relations, and particularly his son Crispus, and being sorry for what he • had done, applied to Sopater the philosopher, and the chief master of the school of Plotinus at • that time: and he answering that there were no expiations for such offences, the emperoro then • had recourse to the Christian bishops, who told him, that by repentance and baptism he might • be cleansed from all sin ; with which doctrine, as they say, he was mightily pleased. Where• upon he became a Christian himself, and required his subjects to be so likewise. Sozomen, and very honestly, it seems to methat these stories have been invented by those • who are desirous to reproach the Christian religion. For Crispus, upon whose account, as they
say, Constantine needed a purification, died in the twentieth year of his father's empire. And * whilst he was yet living having the second post in the government, as being Cæsar, he enacted
many laws in favour of the Christians, jointly with his father, as the laws still in being testify. • He likewise says,' following Eusebius, • that Constantine embraced Christianity, before his • war with Maxentius, and before his coming to Rome, and into Italy. Nor is it probable that
Sopater should have an opportunity of conversing with Constantine in Britain or Gaul. So writes Sozomen.
That Constantine was no longer a heathen and idolater, but a Christian, may be concluded from his edict, published in favour of the Christians, in the year 313, soon after the defeat of Maxentius. Nevertheless his notions concerning the Christian religion, and his knowledge of it, might be afterwards more full and clear. That Constantine was a Christian before this time, is manifest from Zosimus himself.
For, as we saw just now, he complained that the great festival of the secular games, which should have been celebrated in the year 313, was omitted by Constantine. Is not that a proof that he was then a Christian ?
This may suffice for a general observation upon this paragraph. However, I shall take some farther notice of the several particulars of it.
(1.) Zosimus insinuates that for a long time Constantine practised divination.
With regard to this, it should be observed that there are laws extant, two' passed by Constantine in the year 319, one directed to Maximus præfect of Rome, the other to the people, and anothers in the year 321, wherein the senate of Rome, and others are allowed to consult
• Kai TBTO EYELV ETXYyED.Q, TO T85 QDE6E15 METARA BAVOVTAS magis præmio arbitramur. De Malefic. et Mathematicis. αυτης, πασης αμαρτιας εξω παραχρημα καθισασθαι. p. 685. Cod. Theod. I. 9. Tit. 16. 1. i. Tom. 3. p. 114. Idem A. ad b Sozom. H. E. I. i. cap. 5. p. 406.
Populum. Haruspices, et eos qui huic ritui solent ministrare, Αδημονεντα
δε τον βασιλεα επι τη απαγορευσει, περιτύχειν ad privatam domum prohibemus accedere, vel sub prætextu επισκoπoις, οι μετανοια και βαπτισματι υπεσχοντο, πασης αυτον amicitiæ limen alterius ingredi, pæna contra eos propositâ, si αμαρτιας καθαιρειν. Ιb. 406. Β.
contemserint legem. Qui vero id vobis existimatis conducere, Εμοι δε δοκει, ταυτα πεπλασθαι τοις σπεδαζεσαι την adite aras publicas atque delubra, et consuetudinis vestræ celeΧριςιανων θρησκειαν κακηγορειν. Ιbid.
brate solennia. Neque enim prohibemus præteritæ usurpa. Vid. Euseb. de Vita Constantini, 1. i. c. 26-32.
tionis officia liberâ luce tractari. Dat. Id. Maii. Constantio. Imp. Constantinus ad Maxinjum. Nullus aruspex limen Aug. V. et Licinio. Coss. Ibid. 1. 2. Tom. 3. p. 115. alterius accedat, nec ob alteram causam ; sed hujusmodi homi- 8 Si quid de Palatio nostro, aut cæteris operibus publicis num, quamvis vetus, amicitia repellatur. Concremando illo , degustatum de fulguré esse constiterit, retento more veteris obharuspice, qui ad domum alienum accesserit: illo et qui eum servantiæ, quid portendat, ab haruspicibus requiratur, et dilisuasionibus vel præmiis evocaverit, post redemtionem bonorum, gentissime scriptura collecta ad nostram scientiam referatur. in insulam detrudendo. Superstitioni enim suæ servire cu- Cæteris etiam usurpandæ hujus consuetudinis licentiâ tripientes poterunt publice ritum proprium exercere. Accu- buendâ : dummodo sacrificiis domesticis abstineant, quæ spesatorem enim hujus criminis non delatorem esse, sed dignum cialiter prohibita sunt. Eam autem denuntiationem atque
soothsayers upon occasion of lightning and thunder, or other surprising events, provided it be done publicly, in the temples, and at the usual altars. At the same time soc thsayers are strictly: forbidden to go to private houses.
I have put the laws below in their original language.
These laws have occasioned some reflections upon Constantine. Baroxius was greatly offended, especially at the last of them, and exclaims against Constantine, as if he had for a while apostatized from Christianity. Other learned men, particularly James Gothofred, in his notes upon these laws, and Pagi, - and Basnage, 4 and Tillemont, argue, that the terms of these laws import not any approbation of soothsaying, or any rites belonging to it, but rather a dislike of them. They are only permitted in condescension to the prejudices of heathen people, and especially the people of Rome, who were extremely fond of haruspices.
The observations of those learned men seem to me to contain a proper vindication of Constantine. Nevertheless Mr. Mosheim' is not satisfied: he still thinks these laws a proof that Constantine had not yet forsaken Gentilism, or acquiesced in the Christian, as the only true reli
I have put his words below. But I do not think his exceptions to be of any great we As to what Zosimus says that, • Constantine still paid a regard to soothsayers, having expe• rienced the truth of their predictions in his own successes ;' Tillemont 8 says, we need not be. lieve it upon his word alone. And it seems to be contrary to what is said in the panegyric of an uncertain author, to Constantine himself, in the year 313, where he says that, in undertaking * the war with Maxentius, Constantine had acted contrary, not only to the advices of his friends • and generals, but likewise contrary to the admonitions of the haruspices.'
Upon the whole, I do not perceive any thing in those laws, which we are now considering, contrary to the edict of Constantine and Licinius, in favour of the Christians, in the year 313. There it is said : • We publish this therefore as our will and pleasure, and agreeable to right • reason, that leave should not be denied to any man whatever to follow and chuse the con
stitution and worship of the Christians: and that leave be given to every one to betake himself • to that religion, which is most agreeable to him.'
Those laws contain no enlargement of the privileges of heathen people: they are rather a restriction of them: for all rites of soothsaying are here confined to public temples and altars ; no haruspex, or soothsayer, is allowed to go into private houses. If any thing is done there privately, discovering the fact is encouraged. Such shall not be reckoned informers, or accusers, • but shall be entitled to a reward.' And all answers or determinations of haruspices, relating to the public, are to be transmitted to the emperor himself in writing.
Moreover Zosimus himself says, that, at the time of which he is here speaking, Constantine * practised the rites of his country, not from any real veneration for them, but from necessity : that is, in condescension to the sentiments of others, and that he might not too much offend and provoke heathen people.
interpretationem, quæ de tactu Amphitheatri scripta est, de Pagi Ann. 319. num. xi. et 321. num. iv. quâ ad Heraclianum Tribunum, ei magistrum officiorum d Basn. ann. 321. num. V. scripseras, ad nos scias perlatum, Dat-Crispo ii. et Con- L'Emp. Constantin. art. xlii. stantino ii. Coss. De Paganis, &c. Cod. Theod. lib. 16. Tit. x. Notæ sunt leges ejus de tolerandis haruspicibus, modo 1. i. p. 257
a Baron. Ann. 321. num. 18, &c. publice artein suam exerceant-septimo et nono post de- , • Vice versa, sicut haruspicinam privatim exerceri Con- bellalum Maxentium anno sancitæ; quarum tametsi turpistantinus bis legibus vetat, ita contra publice eam exerceri tudinem Gothofredus, Tillemontius, et alii extenuare student, permittit. Publice, inquam, apud aras publicas, et delubra, haud tamen impedient, quo minus ex illis pateat, nonduin et retento more veteris observantiæ.- -Quin, et infra, De tum temporis Imperatorem prorsus a veteri Romanorum reliPaganis, haruspicinam in publicis quoque causis a Senatu ur- gione descivisse, atque in unius Christianæ professione acquibicisque magistratibus Roinæ usurpari idem Constantinus con- evisse. Neque video, cur Zosimus mentiri putandus sit, qui cessit ; sic tamen ut ad se responsa haruspicum referri vellet. Constantinum diu post firmatum imperium hariolis aures præ--Et hæc omnia non tamquam ipse haruspicinam probaret, vel buisse, fidemque habuisse narrat. lib. 2. p. 203. edit. Oxon. ei obnoxius fieret, quod Zosimus credidisse videtur, et Baro- 1079. Mosheim. De Reb. Christian, ante C. M. p. 975. nius hinc colligit, verum quia evellendæ e Gentilium animis 3 Mais pour ce qu'il ajoûte, qu'il avoit souvent éprouvé dans haruspicinæ par nondum erat, et Romæ quidem, et per Ita- ses heureux succès la vérité de leurs prédictions, nous ne l'en Jiam, quam haruspicinæ nominatim fidem maximam habuisse croirons pas assurément sur sa parole. Tillem. ib. scribit Herodianus, lib. 8, p. 612. Ideoque satis habuit Con- h Quisvam te Deus, quæ tam præsens bortata est majestas, stantinus suæ interim saluti et publicæ quieti bis legibus eâ ut, omnibus fere tuis comitibus et ducibus non solum tacite quam dixi ratione consuluisse ; prohibitis sacrificiis domesticis
, mussitantibus, sed etiam aperte timentibus, contra consilia hoet privatarum ædium ingresso haruspicibus interdicto, &c. minum, contra haruspicum monita, ipse per temet liberandæ J. Gothofred. not. ad leg. i. et ii. de Maleficiis, &c. Tom. 3, Urbis tempus venisse sentires. Incerti Paneg. Const. Aug.
cap. 2. p. 233.
i See before in this Vol, ch. xl. num. x. VOL. IV.
(1.) It is reasonable therefore to think that none of those laws abovementioned, or what is here imputed to Constantine by Zosimus, ought to be understood as any impeachment of his Christianity at that time.
(2.) With regard to the death of Crispus and Fausta, it is to be said that no Christians justify any bad actions of Constantine, or any other Christian emperor. Such things as have been reckoned blemishes in the reign of Constantine, with the occasions of them, were particularly considered formerly.' And since that, in the chapter of Eutropius, • I have proposed some additional observations, and therefore need not enlarge now.
(3.) Here is a reflection upon Christian baptism, the like to which we have met with already in Celsus and Julian :but there is no foundation for it. By Sozomen, this is represented after this manner, as we saw just now: that · Constantine met with some Christian bishops, who told • him that by repentance and baptism he might be cleansed from all sin. With which doctrine • the emperor was mightily pleased.' And is there any absurdity in this? Crimes are not to be expiated by sacrifices of animals, nor by bodily pains and mortifications : but they may be expiated by sincere répentance, and solemn engagements to universal virtue and piety for time to come, which are implied in baptism. This doctrine is reasonable in itself, and is agreeable to the declarations of the ancient Jewish prophets, and Jesus Christ and his apostles. It is a reasonable doctrine, and worthy of all acceptation. If God is not inexorable to his creatures, who have offended against him and his laws, how can they appease his displeasure, or recommend themselves to his favour, in any other or better way than this?
(4.) Zosimus tells us that when Constantine was under concern of mind, there came an Ægyptian to Rome from Spain, who first got acquaintance with the women of the court, and • then with Constantine himself, and taught him how he might obtain the expiation of his of• fences and sins.'
All this is said without ground, so far as we know, and may all be the fiction of Zosimus, or of some other Gentile people before him. However, upon this Tillemont remarks in the following manner : · Eusebius has not told us who they were whom God employed to inspire • this prince with the first principles of the truth: all that can be said is, that Zosimus, amidst • the falsities which he relates concerning the conversion of Constantine, there inserts one thing ' which may be true, that an Ægyptian having come from Spain to the place where Constantine * was, he was the cause of his abandoning the Roman religion. This seems to agree well
enough with the great Osius of Corduba in Spain, whom some affairs may have brought to • the court of Constantine. He was at that time famous in the quality of confessor of the name
of Jesus Christ: and we shall hereafter see him employed by Constantine in the distribution of 'his alıns, and in the greatest affairs of the church, as a man for whom Constantine had a very particular respect and esteem.'
But that is mere conjecture. Nor do I know of any reason to believe that Osius of Corduba was acquainted with Constantine at the time of his conversion, or very soon after it.
(5.) Zosimus reflects upon Constantine for leaving Rome, and building Constantinople. But as this will come over again, I defer for the present to make the proper observations relating to that event. We therefore proceed.
5. Zosimus' finds great fault with Constantine for making alterations in the magistracy, and, instead of two præfects of the Prætorium, appointing four with several districts. But I do not think it needful for me to transcribe him here at length, nor to make any remarks. I refer to some learned modern historians and chronologers, % where this new distribution of the several parts of the empire is considered.
6. Having given an account of Constantine's enlarging the city of Byzantium, and calling it Constantinople, and having expatiated upon the expenses of that undertaking, and the consequences of it, he goes on : • Indeed Constahtine mistook prodigality for magnificence. And . moreover he imposed a tax of gold and silver upon all merchants and traders throughout the • empire, not excepting miserable prostitutes : insomuch, that upon the return of every fourth year, when the tax was to be collected, there was nothing to be heard but lamentations and
a See Vol. ii. p. 340–343.
L'Emp. Constantin. sect. xxiv.
8 Vide Pagi ann. 332. n. iv. Basnag. ann. 333. ii. Tillem L'Emp. Constantin. art. 84. da Lib. 2. p. 691.
complaints in every city; and whips and torments were inflicted upon those, who, by reason • of extreme poverty, were not able to pay it. And mothers were forced to part with their • children, and fathers prostituted their daughters, that they might satisfy the collectors of this gold and silver exaction.' So says Zosimus.
Zosimus. And I refer to Gothofred, and Pagi, and others, who have vindicated Constantine from the scandal of this tax. They say it was not new, not even the more infamous part of it, but had been in force in the time of heathen emperors. Some alterations, however, in all probability, were made by « Constantine. Possibly, he appointed the collecting it every fourth or fifth year; for which reason it is sometimes called the Chrysargyral, at other times the Lustral tax. Noro are any ancient laws of Constantine, or any other emperor relating to it, now in being ; all copies of them, and all papers concerning it, having been carefully destroyed' by Anastasius, who abolished this tax.
Some part of this tax was abrogated by Theodosius the younger in the year 439. The rest was in force through the reigns of several Christian emperors, till the eighth or ninth of Anastasius, in the year 8 499. And that it was exacted with great rigour in the time of Julian, appears from an oration of Libanius to that emperor, against Florentius, then prefect of the Prætorium : • Anunsufferable tax,' he says, which fills all men with horror, at the approach of the Lustral ' year, and especially labouring mechanics who have nothing but the instruments of their trade. · Whom I have often seen,' says Libanius, • lifting up their eyes to heaven, with an awl or an • axe in their hands, and professing that they had nothing else.
Undoubtedly the building and adorning Constantinople occasioned great expense. Jerom, in his Chronicle, says: • At this time' Constantinople is built, and all other cities stript almost naked to enrich it.
But whatever reflections may be made upon Constantine by Zosimus, or others, for enlarging Byzantium, his choice seems to have been approved in the end. For all succeeding emperors made it the seat of the eastern part of the empire. And the emperor Julian was exceeding fond of Constantinople, as being his native place, and conferred upon it many privileges, as we are assured k by Ammianus. Zosimus himself speaks to the like purpose. Constantinople' was « his native city, and he made their senate equal to that of Rome, improved their harbour, • adorned the city with a magnificent portico, and a library in which he placed his own books. And Julian in a letter to the Alexandrians, to induce them the more readily to part with a • stone obelisk, which lay on the sea shore of their city, tells them, that Constantine had built a vessel for bringing it to Constantinople his native city; but had been prevented by death. That
city,' says he, now asks the same of me, which is my native country, and therefore more dear * to me than to him. He loved it as a sister, I as a mother. For there I was born and bred, . and therefore cannot be ungrateful to her.'
Julian, I think, might have said, that Constantine loved the city as his daughter: and then he could have had no pretence to magnify his affection for that place above Constantine's. However, the more to satisfy the Alexandrians, he promiseth them a colossus of brass, of a large
a Gothofred. in Cod. Theod. lib. 13. Tit. i. De Lustrali exstinguere decrevit. Basn. ann. 199. num. i. Conf. Pagi ann. Collatione. leg. 1. Tom. 5. p. 1. &c.
330. mum. vi. • Pagi in Baron. ann. 330. n. vi. ann. 491. num. xii.
H Liban. Invect. in Florentium. ad Imp. Julian. T. 2. 427, © Baron. ann. 331. n. 33, &c. Basn. ann. 449. num. i. 428. Tillemont L'Emp. Constantin, sect 80. Bingham's Antiqui- Constantinopolis dedicatur pene on pium urbium nudi. ties of the Church, B. v. chap. iii. sect. 6.
tate. Chron p. 181. u Quare si quid hac parte a Constantino factum, forma * Antiochiam ire contendens, reliquit Constantinopolim tantum ejus mutata. Forte lustralis bac collatio ab eo facta, incrementis multis fultam. Natus enim illic, diligebat eam seu TET FRETTIXY, quæ antea annalis, vel ejusmodi erat : sic, ut genitalem patriam, et colebat. Ammia. I. 22. •. 9. ut pro facultatum incremento, totidem lustris augeretur. Goth. ut supra. p.4. ;
1 Επει δε εις το Βυζαντιον παρεγενετο, παντες μεν αυτον e Cod. Just. De Lustralis auri Collatione : quo titulo ab- συν ευφημιαις εδεχοντο, πολιτην και τροφιμον εαυτων ονομαζονsunt omnes hujus tituli constirutiones : utpote sublatâ hac τες (οία δη εν ταυτη τεχθεντα τε και τραφεντα τη πολει). collatione ab Anastasio, teste Euagrio, et Zonara. Gothof. Εν ταυτη της πόλεως αμα και των κρατοπεδων επιμελεμενος, ib. p. 1.
εδωκε μεν τη πολει γεράσιαν εχειν ωσπερ εν τη [πολει] Ρωμη. I'Vid. Euagr. H. E. I. 3. cap. 41. Zonar. am. T. 3. p. 45. n. A. Zos. 1. 3. p. 713.
8 At lenonum quidem vectigal jam sustulerat 1 heodosius Ep. 58. p. 443. edit. Spanbem. et ap. Fabric, Bib. Gr. apno 439. Anastasius vero infame vectigal ubique locorum 1. 5. c. 8. T.7. p. 84.